Pubdate: Mon, 27 Dec 2010
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Page: A08
Copyright: 2010 The Washington Post Company
Author: William Booth, Washington Post Foreign Service


MEXICO CITY - The leader of the Mexican military told U.S. 
authorities last year that the head of the Sinaloa drug cartel moves 
among 10 to 15 known locations but that capturing Joaquin "El Chapo" 
Guzman was "difficult" because the most wanted man in Mexico 
surrounds himself with hundreds of armed men and a sophisticated web 
of snitches, according to a leaked diplomatic cable.

Mexico's defense secretary, Gen. Guillermo Galvan, told Adm. Dennis 
C. Blair, then the Obama administration's director of national 
intelligence, that the Mexican army was implementing plans to capture 
Guzman but that "Chapo commands the support of a large network of 
informers and has security circles of up to 300 men that make 
launching capture operations difficult," according to a report sent 
by U.S. Ambassador Carlos Pascual on Oct 26, 2009, and released by 
WikiLeaks to news organizations.

Guzman is the boss of Mexico's dominant trafficking organization and 
an almost legendary drug lord here - the subject of books and songs, 
a billionaire mastermind who escaped from a Mexican federal prison, 
reportedly in a laundry basket.

In his meeting with his U.S. counterparts, Galvan complained that it 
was difficult to mount joint operations with Mexican police because 
"leaks of planning and information by corrupted officials have 
compromised past efforts."

Galvan told the American intelligence officials that his forces were 
"willing to accept any training" the U.S. government could provide.

The Mexican government has repeatedly denied that Mexican military 
forces are receiving training from U.S. armed forces, but diplomatic 
cables leaked earlier this year appear to confirm that Mexican 
marines have been receiving special operations training from their 
U.S. counterparts and that Mexican army troops were seeking the same.

Galvan told U.S. officials that he expected the Mexican military to 
continue its controversial leadership role in the fight against the 
cartels for the next seven to 10 years. He suggested that "increased 
U.S. intelligence assistance could shorten that time frame."

In response to the leaked cables, first reported by the New York 
Times, the Mexican military and federal police said they were 
pursuing Guzman and his Sinaloa cartel with the same zeal as any of 
Mexico's other major drug organizations.

Intelligence from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration that was 
shared with Mexican marines has resulted in a series of "capture or 
kill" operations against high-value targets in the Mexican drug world.

Another leaked cable indicates that Panamanian President Ricardo 
Martinelli was pressuring the DEA to use its wiretaps in Panama 
against Martinelli's political opponents.

"He clearly made no distinction between legitimate security targets 
and political enemies," then-U.S. Ambassador Barbara Stephenson wrote 
in her Aug. 22, 2009, report.

Stephenson, in her cable, stated that Martinelli first asked her in a 
BlackBerry message: "I need help tapping phones." The ambassador 
wrote of Martinelli's "bullying style" and "autocratic tendencies." 
His "near-obsession with wiretaps betrays a simplistic and naive 
attitude toward the criminal investigative process," Stephenson 
wrote. "He appears to believe that wiretaps are the solution to all 
of his crime problems."

In her cable, the U.S. ambassador stressed that Martinelli's requests 
were rebuffed. "We will not be party to any effort to expand wiretaps 
to domestic political targets." But the cable highlights the extent 
of U.S. listening in Panama, complete with a "wire room" staffed by DEA agents.

Martinelli's office said in a statement Saturday that "help in 
tapping the telephones of politicians was never requested" and that 
"any such interpretation of that request is completely mistaken."  
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake